Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Turning Fear Into...A Skating Rink?

Yesterday I had an appointment at the dentist.  Not a favourite of mine.  My dentist is a wonderful man - always kind.  However, I've never enjoyed going.  Whether it's the tapping, scraping or cleaning...I'm just not a fan.  In the past few years, I really began to dread going.  One or even two days prior to my appointment I would be a complete wreck.  Anxiety would take over and my sleep would become disrupted.  I would cry the night before and normally for approximately 24 hours prior to sitting in the dentist's chair, I would have several trips to the bathroom with "the runs".  And that was all while on medication FOR anxiety.  It wouldn't be uncommon for me to take an extra pill during that time...and somehow I believed it was helping me...that I'd be even worse if I didn't take those little orange pills.  Was I ever wrong!

Back to yesterday.  Was I scared?  Yes.  Did my legs shake in the waiting room?  Yes.  Did I think about it several times the day before my appointment?  Yes.  However...did I lose sleep over it?  No.  Did I make several trips to the washroom the day before?  No.  Did I have to make ANY trips to the washroom with the dreaded "runs"?  No.  Did I have a panic attack the night before?  No. 

Look at all those "no's"...and I'm not on medication.  I handled it far better yesterday off of medication than all those years I was medicated.  I told my mom after my appointment that although I was very stressed and borderline terrified, I felt I handled it FAR better than I did the previous few years on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication.  She said, "Because it was YOU in control of your feelings".  I was able to rationalize my fears.  Many people don't like visiting the dentist.  For me it's a fear of finding out my teeth have cavities and I think it stems from being a perfectionist.  I "failed" if my teeth end up with little holes in them.  As I was lying back in the dentist's chair and felt the fear rearing its ugly heart beginning to pound and me trying to think of an escape plan...I said to myself, "Stop".  Stop the fear.  You cannot control what is going to happen, so allow it to happen.  Direct your mind elsewhere.  Which is what I did.  I directed my mind to an ice rink.  Yes, an ice rink.  We all have our dreams growing up.  One of mine was to become a famous figure skater.  So now when my fears get the better of me, I often imagine myself in a beautiful (but edgy and preferably black or purple) costume, gliding on the ice to music by Radiohead or Sia.  I wouldn't be a conventional skater...I'd be unique.  One of a kind.  And as I glide, turn and leap into the air, I can feel my body relax and my fears take a backseat.  It doesn't always work, but it has become one of my "weapons" for treating my anxiety naturally.

I have other weapons...and other places I direct my mind.  I will share those over time.  For now, I am happy I made it through another dentist appointment, and even more happy that I can see the healing unfolding.  I am not where I want to be, but it is slowly coming.  Eventually the nausea and stomach pains will subside, as will the 3am panic attacks.  And I will become a woman with many tools in her toolbox to help others combat anxiety issues head on - and naturally.

The dentist appointment went very well.  I do need a night guard for my teeth as I am now grinding and clenching my teeth and wearing down the enamel - something I attribute to the night time anxiety and panic attacks caused by coming off of the Benzodiazepines.  As for the cavities I feared?  None.  I'm a happy woman. 

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